Middle Great Harry “Pittsburgh Windmill” Greb P4P One of the Best!
By Ken Hissner: Former Middleweight champion Harry “Pittsburgh Windmill” Greb, 261-17-20 with 49 knockouts, mostly known for being the only man to defeat Heavyweight champion Gene “The Fighting Marine” Tunney, 79-1-4. He fought from 1913-1926. From August 1923 to February 1926, he held the title!
My question is, did he fight with just one eye or not? At the age of 32 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, he died from complications during eye surgery.
At 19-2-4, Greg, in his first major bout, drew with Norway-born Terry Martin, 81-41-32, of Philadelphia, in November of 1914. In his next bout, he lost to Philly’s Joe Burrell, 46-14-6, drawing with him in 2015.
He drew with Billy “The St. Paul Thunderbolt” Miske, 10-1-5, in January of 1915, a future IBHOF boxer. Just two weeks later, he defeated Jack Blackburn, 92-13-20.
At the end of 2015, Greb defeated George Chip, 52-30-10, but lost the rematch in 2016. In his next fight, he lost to future IBHOF boxer Tommy Gibbons, 18-0-2. In November of that year, in back-to-back fights, he defeated Willie KO Brennan, 86-20-26, and again six days later, in between, he knocked out Jackie Clark, 57-21-19.
In 1917 Greb knocked out Young Ahearn, 79-19-14, and four weeks later, with two wins in between, he defeated Al McCoy, 72-33-31. He followed up with wins over Jeff “Bayonne Globetrotter” Smith, 51-15-1, Chip again, Frank Mantell, 52-39-30, Buck Crouse, 101-17-9, Jack “Hoosier Bearcat” Dillon, 173-13-20, Battling Levinsky, 137-28-26.
In 1921, Greb defeated one of the all-time colored boxers, Kid Norfolk, 89-18-6. In 1922 he defeated Tommy Gibbons, 77-1-4, Tunney, 47-0-2, Tommy “Phantom of Philly” Loughran, 34-3-2, future IBHOF inductee, and again in 1923.
Former lightweight and President of Philadelphia’s VBA Ring One Joe Shannon shared several stories about Greb. “We were in Philadelphia Jack O’Brien’s Gym” in Philly where there were two rings. A New England middleweight was in one ring beating up anyone they put before him getting ready for a main event in the city. He asked if there was anyone else to spar? The gym owner O’Brien retired as light heavyweight champion started taking his vest off when Shannon got in the ring and, being twenty pounds light, ran around the ring. In the other ring, a boxer shadow boxing said, “Hey buddy, need some work?”
The boxer went over to the other ring and beat the hell out of the New Englander to the point he had a cut over one of his ears and would be out of his future fight. The one who beat him left the ring heading for the dressing room when Shannon followed him, saying, “thanks for doing that for me!” The boxer replied, “Hey buddy, I didn’t do that for you. A guy like that shouldn’t be in boxing. By the way, my name is Harry Greb!”
On a lighter note, Greb shared a house with his sister and heard some noise downstairs and yelled, “Hey Sis, I hear someone downstairs; check it out!” Hard to believe, huh? ‘
In a rematch with Tunney in 1923, Greb would lose over 15 rounds for the American Light Heavyweight title. A loss to Loughran in a rematch was followed by Lou “The Blond Italian” Bogash, 87-11-19. A win over Bryan Downey, 81-25-16, then a loss to Tunney in their third match, followed by a win over Loughran in a third match.
In 1924 Greb lost in a rematch to Norfolk by DQ. In won in a rematch with Jackie Clark, 124-54-39, and knocking out Frank Moody, 96-35-11, of the UK. Next, he won the middleweight title in June of that year in having to lose 13 ½ pounds in ten days defeating Ted Moore 52-8-2 of the UK, over 15 rounds in Yankee Stadium, New York.
Back to light heavyweight in his next fight, Greb defeated Tiger Flowers, 69-8-4, Jimmy Slattery, 48-1, Tunney and Loughran again in a pair of draws, and twice over Jimmy Delaney, 44-5-7, in November and January and again in 1926. In 1925 in the fourth fight with Tunney, he lost over ten rounds, following with a win over Johnny Wilson, 60-26-8.
In February of 1926, Greb lost a disputed split decision in a rematch with Flowers, 110-14-5. In June, in his final win, he defeated Allentown Joe Gans, 76-21-16. In August, he lost by split decision in a middleweight title fight in his final fight with Flowers, 117-14-5. He ended his career after that one over 15 rounds. All but five of his fights were in the US except going 5-0 in Canada. He was inducted into the IBHOF in their first year.
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